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al kafi 1589


Assalamualaikum Dato’. I have a question. Is it true that before the pharaoh was drowned in the sea, he had the chance to repent to Allah SWT as mentioned in verse 19 of Surah Yunus. Then, is his repentance accepted by Allah SWT? Hope to get the answer. Thank you.



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The pharaoh is known as an oppressor and the tyrant ruler of Egypt. He claimed that he is the god of the universe and challenge the teachings of the Prophet Moses AS. This is as mentioned in the Quran:

فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَىٰ

And said, "I am your most exalted lord."

Surah al-Naazi’at (24)

Besides, the pharaoh arrogantly ridiculed the teaching of the Prophet Moses AS summoning people to worship Allah SWT. Therefore, the Pharaoh ordered Haman to build a tall tower for him to see the God that the Prophet Moses AS tell them about which is Allah SWT. This is mentioned in the Quran:

وَقَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرِي فَأَوْقِدْ لِي يَا هَامَانُ عَلَى الطِّينِ فَاجْعَل لِّي صَرْحًا لَّعَلِّي أَطَّلِعُ إِلَىٰ إِلَـٰهِ مُوسَىٰ وَإِنِّي لَأَظُنُّهُ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ

And The Pharaoh said, "O eminent ones, I have not known you to have a god other than me. Then ignite for me, O Haman, [a fire] upon the clay and make for me a tower that I may look at the God of Moses. And indeed, I do think he is among the liars."

Surah al-Qasas (38)

The Tafsir (Commentary) of Surah Yunus Verse 90-91

Referring back to the question asked, we bring forward the opinions of tafsir scholars on the verse that mentions the incident where the Pharaoh and his army were drowning in the sea which was cut parted by the Prophet Musa AS, it is stated that he had declared his belief before he died.

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and The Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, "I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims."

Surah Yunus (90)

Imam al-Qurtubi upon commenting on the verse (لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ) state that the pronouncement of faith at the time are of no benefit. Repentance that is accepted by Allah SWT is repentance before punishment is imposed, as for when a person is punished, then his repentance is not accepted. (See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 8/377)

Syeikh al-Maraghi states that when the pharaoh utter the words of repentance, it was the time when door towards repentance is already closed. This is because, when he pronounces his faith, he was already in a helpless situation (when Allah’s punishment comes). (See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 11/151)

Then Allah SWT answer the statement of faith by the pharaoh in the next verse. This indicates that Allah SWT reject Pharaoh’s repentance as he was already warned of the punishment of Allah SWT and given the time to believe in Him.

Allah SWT says:

آلْآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

Now? And you had disobeyed [Him] before and were of the corrupters?

Surah Yunus (91)

Imam al-Qurtubi states in his tafsir, the above verse is a statement from Allah SWT. There are other opinions which state that the above verse is the saying of Gabriel, Mikael or other angels R.Anhum. According to another opinion, the above verse is the words of the pharaoh deep down in his mind when he was in the midst of death. (See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 8/379)

Syeikh al-Maraghi states in his tafsir, the above verse means Allah SWT answer the pharaoh with a question, which is, is it only now you want to believe after you commit transgressions, then when death comes, you repent? Therefore, the pronouncement of faith at that time is not acceptable. (See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 11/151)

Hence, it is the sign that pharaoh’s repentance is not accepted by Allah SWT as Allah SWT mentioned this in another surah on the punishments that will be inflicted upon the pharaoh and his followers during the barzakh and the hereafter.

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

النَّارُ يُعْرَضُونَ عَلَيْهَا غُدُوًّا وَعَشِيًّا ۖ وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ أَدْخِلُوا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَشَدَّ الْعَذَابِ

The Fire, they are exposed to it morning and evening. And the Day the Hour appears [it will be said], "Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment."

Surah Ghafir (46)


Referring back to the above question and explanation, we may conclude here that the pharaoh had the chance to pronounce his faith to Allah SWT during the time when he was dying, drowning in the sea which was parted by the Prophet Musa AS. However, Allah SWT do not accept his repentance as he repented during the time of his last breath and it is the time when he can do nothing. This is as mentioned in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Amr RA. The Prophet PBUH said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَيَقْبَلُ تَوْبَةَ الْعَبْدِ مَا لَمْ يُغَرْغِرْ

“Allah accepts the repentance of His slave so long as the death rattle has not yet reached his throat.”

Sunan Ibn Majah (4253)

May Allah SWT give us the chance to repent as well as His taufiq and hidayah to do ibadah solely for His sake. Amin.